Do you sometimes buy random ingredients because they look lovely and fresh and you feel like a change, while you’re out grocery shopping? No planning, no forethought, no shopping list full of ingredients, maybe not even a recipe? That’s what happened to me with these basa fillets. I just picked them up at Aldi because they were really cheap and looked fresh. And I couldn’t remember ever trying basa before so I bought them. Then I got home and stashed them in the fridge for the next day without any plan. Luckily, by sheer coincidence, very shortly after that I came across Lauren’s recipe for Pan Roasted Swordfish Recipe with Tomato-Olive Sauce. A match made in heaven!
Lauren’s recipe and blog
For those of you who have not come across Lauren’s blog Basic Ginger before, head on over there. She has literally TONS of easy but delicious recipes made with fresh ingredients on her site and every time I visit, I’m drooling. Plus she has the best sense of humour and such talent for writing, I always leave inspired. Thank you, Lauren, I love coming back to visit your blog!
What kind of fish is basa?
Back to these basa fillets though. Just in case you don’t know, basa is a type of catfish native to Southeast Asia. Its flesh has a light, firm texture and a mild fish flavor — similar to cod or haddock. In fact, it’s often sold as boneless fish fillets and used in the same way.
One reason basa is so popular is its cost. It’s cheap to grow and harvest, making it competitively priced, even when exported abroad.
Like other types of white fish, basa is low in calories and rich in high-quality protein and contains small amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids (though not as much as salmon or mackerel).
Basa fillets make for a lovely quick lunch or dinner
One reason I like making this recipe is that the basa fillets are baked in the oven, not pan-fried. They bake simply, without any adornments and so don’t need any prep time at all. All you need to do is to pre-heat your oven.
While the basa fillets bake, you make your sauce. This comes together quickly, and needs only a little bit of chopping. I usually pop the fish in the oven and start chopping and dicing my garlic, onions, zucchini and tomatoes. Then the sauce ingredients are pan fried quickly, allowing the flavours to blend and seep into each other, but the sauce remains fresh.
I love all the flavours here – the salty olives, the juicy fresh tomatoes (best off the vine), a little peppery bite from the onions and garlic, sweeteness from the corn and the zucchini which absorbs all the flavours without complaint, all topped with the fruityness of the white wine and some fresh herbs. If you’re lucky, you’re taste all of these every time you bite into your basa fillet, topped with this gorgeous fresh sauce.
Finally, if you are going to be making this for kids, you may want to substitute chicken or fish stock for the white wine. Even though some of the alcohol will cook off, I understand the latest knowledge indicates that some of the alcohol will remain unless cooked for over three hours or so (which is perfect for stews but not a quick meal like this). Better be safe!
Basa fillets with tomato olive sauce [baked not fried]
- 500 g basa fish fillets (or other white fleshed fish fillets, like cod or haddock)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch of spring onions, white parts only, finely chopped
- 1 small zucchini, diced (no need to peel)
- about 20 cherry tomatoes, preferrably off the vine, halved
- about 150g sicilian green olives
- 1/3 cup white wine (or substitute chicken or fish stock, if making for kids)
- basil leaves, for serving
- salt (optional)
- Pre-heat your oven to 210C and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the fish fillets on the baking tray in a single layer (no overlapping) and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until cooked through.
- In the meantime, prepare (chop, dice and slice) the garlic, spring onions, zucchini and tomatoes.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium to large pan over medium to high heat and add the garlic, spring onions, zucchini, tomatoes and olives. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the white wine (or stock) to the sauce ingredients in the pan and cook down over medium heat until the wine has reduced and there is very little liquid left in the pan (about 3 to 5 more minutes). Sprinkle over a dash of salt, if required.
- Take the sauce ingredients off the heat.
- When the fish is baked, take it out of the oven.
- Serve the fish fillets topped with the sauce mixture and some basil leaves.
- This is best eaten straight away.
This recipe makes about 4 servings. We had enough for two adults and two children, for a light lunch.